Merlittle ’16, Merlot ’17

Part 1

I have a new hobby. I have taken up archery. Better late than never.  In a charity do last year I won an hour’s session of archery at a local outdoor centre. It took me and the neighbour a year to use up the voucher, with three days to go in March this year.

I wish I had done it earlier! We weren’t too rubbish at it even when neither of us had ever held a bow and arrow before. After a couple of shots we could actually hit the target more often than not. And when we moved to the mock animal targets – well! I could have had a deer stew, bear steak, boar casserole and wolf Wellington. Perhaps not that one. And let’s say I managed to hit the ‘animal’ somewhere in the body but not necessarily in a fatal part. I really got fired up, especially when just days afterwards I got an e mail from our Community Council that archery sessions would start again in the village.

I have been going there ever since, from April on, once a week and am thoroughly enjoying it. It is a small group but the banter is priceless.

Our shooting is properly constructed. We wait for the instructor’s permission to start shooting and to collect the arrows. He is hugely overqualified for our group and I haven’t baffled him so far with any question about archery. Or anything else. He is a walking encyclopaedia. Archery is my kind of sport, you just need some upper body muscles and reasonable eye-hand co-ordination helps. You stand there, aim, and shoot. When everybody has shot we wait for the whistle and walk slowly to retrieve the arrows. Walk slowly back discussing the results. Repeat. I am pleased to report that I am still, more often than not, hitting the target, getting closer to the middle.

I am in the process of purchasing my own kit instead of borrowing the instructor’s. Very wisely the group told me not to buy anything until I see if I like it enough and then see what I need. Some of the accessories I have been able to make myself, like the finger tab and arm guard. An old leather cushion bit the dust, and in the top shed I found a back drop for the target. I must have saved at least £25.

I am looking forward to Spring when the regular sessions start again. In winter they are so random, dependent on the weather and light.

Yours truly

Wilhelmina Tell


Part 2

I had two holidays this year. Holiday 1 was two nights in Pitlochry and Holiday 2 was an overnight at Stobo Spa.

My sister-in-law had been going to the Pitlochry Theatre Festival with her now late husband several times and I asked if she’d fancy going again. Yes. We asked her cousin who had moved to this area recently if she’d like to come too. Oh yes please. We three get on very well. Last year we saw two plays but this year only one. Some of them are a bit silly. Our real treat is a visit to the House of Bruar. We propped up the Perthshire economy as much as we could.

There were some treats though that were completely free. As we were crossing the new Queensferry bridge the Sat Nav showed us floating in the Forth. It hadn’t heard of the new bridge. I took a photie of the sat nav and sent it to Number 1 Daughter who said Oh Dear… and she told us to get in touch with the RNLI and asked if we had flares in the car. It doesn’t take much to amuse us. The other free treat was in the dining room of the hotel. We all had ordered the same pudding, Border Tart with cinnamon ice cream. The waitress came in announcing Three Tarts..? That’s us, we said. Mirth followed. Well, I was wearing my usual fish nets. Full marks to Knockendarroch Hotel, for comfortable stay, excellent food, friendly service.

As for Holiday 2, less said the better. I went with two friends. Health Spa? We had Champagne, cocktails, wine…we ate a lot. I couldn’t use the hot tubs as I didn’t have a swim suit. I think I gave it away years ago thinking I don’t like swimming, getting my hair wet. The tubs looked so inviting, with the massaging water jets. Coming home I ordered a new swim suit, just in case along comes another chance to got to Stobo. I could get used to pampering. I was hoping perhaps miracles with the facial. It felt super but failed to make me a ravishing beauty. Try again…

Part 3

What’s the difference between a banjo on the road and a hedgehog on the road?

There are skid marks before the hedgehog.

Sorry, banjo players…

Last Sunday I had the huge pleasure to attend a gig by Tim Kliphuis Trio. Cousin Pam had seen them last year and organized tickets for us this year. It is years since I have enjoyed a music event so much. They played Grappelli type jazz with classical and modern twist. Vivaldi’s Winter would start quietly with the violin – the usual tune – then the guitar joined in, then the base. The tune swelled gradually and in a crescendo the tune exploded into full Grappelli mode.

I think Antonio would have been gobsmacked at the result. I was. It was an exhilarating noise and I certainly will go and hear them next time they come to the area. Some of the pieces seem to have several tunes in them – apart from the expected. Now, was that a bit of  ‘Brandenburg? Or ‘I take the high road and you take the low…’ All the musicians were virtuosi.

How can you produce that sound on the guitar with only two hands and six strings?? In one piece Tim Kliphuis played the violin as a guitar. Why bother inventing a banjo when you can produce such a sound with a violin?! They seemed to know each other’s playing perfectly, following each other spot on. And to remember how the tune goes – astonishing. I was on edge listening, exhausted after the concert. And I had a wonderful sleep that night.